Bishop Peter Elliott’s report on the Ordinariate in England

3 02 2012

From the Personal Ordinariate of  Our Lady of Walsingham’s official website:

The first birthday of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was celebrated fittingly on Sunday January 15th  2012  at St James, Spanish Place, with Solemn Evensong, Sermon, Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, Te Deum and Benediction. Together with other clergy, I assisted in choir at this act of thanksgiving on the last night of a fascinating two week visit to London.

The Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton presided and preached. What I found most encouraging was not only his “upbeat” message, full of his own warmth and pastoral confidence, but the sense of achievement and joy among the large congregation who had gathered for the celebration.

The choir of St James brought forth the best of the Anglican Patrimony, wedded to the English Catholic heritage,  We entered to Parry “I was glad when they said unto me” (vivid memories of the coronation in 1953). Stanford provided the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!” accompanied the Eucharistic procession, while the canopy over the Sacrament was borne by four robed Knights of Malta. Stanford again gave us his Te Deum, while Elgar provided a limpid O Salutaris, not forgetting the traditional translation of Benediction used across three centuries by the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament.

What I discerned in London is an Ordinariate that is growing steadily, facing challenges, especially church sharing, yet moving ahead. Nevertheless, some Catholic journalists have claimed that undue control is being exercised over the Ordinariate by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. Frankly I do not share that concern.

The Bishops I talked to want the Ordinariate to flourish and are not overprotective. But, to be realistic, at this stage the Ordinariate is very young, a “nursling in arms”. It needs much support, care and encouragement as it gradually finds its place in the wider Church. It will not be absorbed and it will not be turned into an ecclesiastical nature reserve. Nor should we heed mischievous rumors that some people are reverting to Anglicanism out of disappointment. Long ago, that tale was spread about Blessed John Henry Newman himself. It is a standard fantasy, the gossip of those who feel insecure about other people’s choices. In fact, new groups are forming and emerging and individuals are quietly making their choice for unity.

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Catholic Herald: All former Anglicans can join ordinariate, says bishop

26 01 2012

From the Catholic Herald:

An English bishop has confirmed that Anglicans who were received into the Catholic Church years ago can join the personal ordinariate created by Benedict XVI last year.

The Pope established the world’s first personal ordinariate for groups of former Anglicans that wished to enter into full communion with Rome in January 2011. There was discussion at the time about whether Anglicans received before 2011 could also join the structure under the terms of Anglicanorum coetibus, the apostolic constitution describing the nature of personal ordinariates.

Writing in the January 2012 issue of The Newman, the journal of the Newman Association, Bishop Alan Hopes clarified that the ordinariate was open to all former Anglicans.

The bishop, who serves as an auxiliary in Westminster diocese and as episcopal delegate to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, wrote: “The personal ordinariate is for former Anglicans – but Anglicans who converted some years ago can, if they so wish, say that they would like to become members of the ordinariate. There is that dual possibility.

“The decision-making body is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They are the people who will be the final arbiters in any question that might arise. There are points in the constitution [Anglicanorum coetibus] that will have to be fleshed out.”

The bishop, a former Anglican who was received into the Catholic Church in 1994, said that the long-term future of the ordinariate was unclear.

“As for the future, it may be God’s will that it should be the present structure, but maybe in 50 years’ time the ordinariate will become fully integrated into the Catholic Church. Who knows? We must wait and see,” he wrote.





Ordinary’s Message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2012

18 01 2012

Mgr Keith Newton writes:

On the night that our Lord was betrayed, in the upper room, he prayed that his followers should all be one (cf. John 17:21).  That all Christians are not united is a source of great scandal – because it limits and distorts the work of evangelisation, to which all Christ’s faithful are called.

In the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we have the opportunity to rekindle our desire for the full, visible unity of all Christians, and to assess once more the importance of Christ’s call – that all may be one.

Pope Benedict, in his response to Anglicans seeking fullness of communion with the Catholic Church, has shown us how this hope can be realised – in and through the unifying office of the Bishop of Rome, as the successor of St Peter.  He is truly the Pope of Christian Unity, because he shows that in the one Body of Christ we do not need to be divided to cherish our richly different traditions and identities, and that the Catholic Church is truly ready and able to manifest the unity of the Universal Church within its own life.

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Pastoral Letter from Mgr Keith Newton

16 01 2012

Pastoral Letter from the Right Reverend Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the establishment:

My Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, 15th January 2012, marks the first Anniversary of the erection by the Holy See of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman. A year is not a long time in the life of any institution particularly that of the Catholic Church, but as it was such an historic moment we should not let it pass without reflection.

An Anniversary is an opportunity both to look back with thanksgiving and look forward in hope. It has been an extraordinary year as we have moved from places we have known and loved to find a new and welcoming home in the Catholic Church. I echo the words of St Paul writing to the Church at Corinth “I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given to you in Christ Jesus” 1 Cor 1:4. I give thanks to God for your courage and faith sometimes at great personal cost. Many people have travelled a similar road before us, our patron Blessed John Henry Newman being one of many, but what is unique is that we have travelled together responding to the generous invitation made by our Holy Father Pope Benedict specifically to people like us. Although there have been difficulties and anxieties many people have told me of the joy and fulfilment of entering into the full communion of the Catholic Church through the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. We can also be thankful for those Catholic congregations and countless individuals, lay and ordained, who have so wonderfully supported and encouraged us over the year. We have much to thank God for. There have, of course, been disappointments and setbacks on the way but these have been outweighed by the warmth of the welcome and the knowledge of being in communion with the See of Peter and countless millions across the world. This is something we have prayed and longed for but has been realised for us in a way we could never have envisaged beforehand. It puts into practice the Holy Father’s vision that it is possible for Christians from different traditions to be united in a common faith, expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and in communion with the successor of Peter.

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Anniversary greetings from Bishop Hopes

14 01 2012

Bishop Alan Hopes, Auxiliary bishop of Westminster, sends these greetings to the clergy and lay faithful of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham:

Dear Monsignor Keith,

Please convey my congratulations to the priests and people of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and an assurance of my continued prayers for them on this the first anniversary of the establishment of the Ordinariate In England and Wales. May the Lord continue to bless its mission and may Mary, Mother of God, continue to inspire you all through her maternal love and prayers.

With all good wishes,

Yours in Christ,

+ Alan

The Right Revd Alan S Hopes
Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster





Ordinariate: Another Anglican bishop answers Pope Benedict’s call to unity

8 01 2012

From the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham:

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Former Anglican monk and bishop, Robert Mercer, has been received into the full communion of the Catholic Church by Monsignor Keith Newton through the Personal Ordinariate of
Our Lady of Walsingham.

On Saturday 7 January, Mgr Newton celebrated Mass according to the Book of Divine Worship at the historic church of St Agatha’s, Portsmouth, by kind permission of the Reverend John Maunder, who cares for the Traditional Anglican Communion faithful in that area.

Mgr Newton said, ‘It is a great privilege to receive Robert into the fullness of Catholic life. He is a man of unimpeachable moral stature who, through his ministry in Africa and with the Community of the Resurrection, brings many valuable treasures of Anglican life into the Catholic Church’.

Robert Mercer was born in Zimbabwe and has been a member of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, for 49 years. From 1977-89 he was the Anglican bishop of Matabeleland and from 1989-2005 he served as a bishop of the Traditional Anglican Catholic Church of Canada. He retired in 2005 and became the Episcopal Visitor to the Traditional Anglican Communion in the UK.

Six former Anglican bishops have now been reconciled to the Holy See through the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

[Photo credit: (c) Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Left to Right: Fr Edwin Barnes, Fr Anthony Glaysher (Parish Priest of Ryde), Fr Jonathan Redvers Harris, Mgr Keith Newton, Robert Mercer, John Newbery (Sponsor) and Fr Graham Smith.]





Statement from Fr Jeffrey Steenson

2 01 2012

From Fr Jeffrey Steenson, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter:

On behalf of so many pilgrims of Catholic unity who have looked forward to this day, I wish to thank His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, for this priceless gift, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter under the patronage of Our Lady of Walsingham. I pray that we who will come into full communion through this Ordinariate will bring the Holy Father much joy through our love and faithful service to the Catholic Church. To His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl and His Excellencies Kevin Vann of Fort Worth and Robert McManus of Worcester: thank you for laying this good foundation for the Ordinariate. To His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo-thank you for your generous hospitality in providing for our principal church and a place in the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary for the formation of our future clergy. And, personally, to His Excellency, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe, who brought me into the Church and ordained me: my wife and I love you dearly. You all represent so many people who have worked so hard to bring the Holy Father’s vision to reality!

I ask for your prayers for me and for those who will become members of the Ordinariate. There is so much to learn, and it is a steep learning curve. Be patient with us as we embark on this journey. Pray that we may strive to learn the faith, laws, and culture of the Catholic Church with humility and good cheer. But pray too that we do not forget who we are and where we have come from, for we have been formed in the beautiful and noble Anglican tradition. The Holy Father has asked us to bring this patrimony with us: “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared” [Anglicanorum coetibus 3]. Here is one thing I earnestly desire to share with you from the outset: Anglican spirituality has always emphasized the need to be gentlemanly in all of our relationships. May you see in us always the virtue of courtesy!

The parishes and communities of the Ordinariate have been called, not to live in relative isolation, but to be fully engaged in the life of the local diocese; not to be assimilated, but to be integrated into the rich life of the Catholic Church. This Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter must be, above all else, an effective instrument for evangelization. But Jesus taught us that the unity of Christian people is the essential condition for evangelization (John 17:21). So this must be our hallmark:to build bridges, to be an instrument of peace and reconciliation, to be a sign of what Christian unity might look like. And gaudete in Domino semper (Philippians 4:4) to be joyful and happy Catholics!

The establishment of the Personal Ordinariate is an historic moment in the history of the Church. For perhaps the first time since the Reformation in the 16th century, a corporate structure has been given to assist those who in conscience seek to return to the fold of St. Peter and his successors. But I would like to go back a little further, to the end of the 6th century, to see that this is not such a new thing. Pope Gregory the Great writes to St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, recently arrived from Rome, to urge him always to be a gracious and patient pastor in the way he gathers his flock. Anglicans love to read these letters, preserved in the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, for they are a great witness to how the Church gathers her people from many different cultures and lands. The decree which this day establishes the Ordinariate begins with these words: “The supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls. As such, throughout its history, the Church has always found the pastoral and juridical means to care for the good of the people.” In what Pope Benedict has given us today, I hear the voice of Pope Gregory the Great: “For things are not to be loved for the sake of places, but places for the sake of good things” (1.27). What a beautiful testimony to all that Catholic Christianity is!

Fr. Jeffrey Steenson
Houston, Texas








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